How to boost your baby's brain development

How to boost your baby's brain development

Ask any childhood expert and they will tell you that a child’s early years are not just about physical milestones such as crawling and walking; they represent the most significant period of brain development. As your baby grows from a cooing, sweet-smelling bundle into an energetic, messy toddler, every interaction they have isn't just a moment of bonding but rather, it's a building block to enhance their learning and development.

How a baby's brain develops

From the moment of birth, babies possess around 100 billion neurons, or nerve cells, which pass information to each other by their connecting neural pathways. Each experience and interaction a baby has helps to lay down new neural pathways, enriching this neurological infrastructure to make the brain process information more quickly and efficiently.

How does talking or reading to your baby help their development 

Whether you are reading aloud, talking or singing engaging with your baby through language helps to form and strengthen these vital neural connections that underpin all future learning. In fact, research has shown that language exposure in early life can have a profound impact on a child’s vocabulary and cognitive development. Regularly reading books to your child and incorporating diverse and engaging verbal interactions are crucial. Each word a child hears is a new piece of information their brain processes and retains, promoting and fast-tracking their ability to communicate and understand the world. Research has also demonstrated that the quantity and quality of words a child is exposed to in infancy directly affect their vocabulary size and early reading skills. These, in turn, are key predictors of their readiness for school and their subsequent success in academia. 

A child’s cognitive processing speed (the speed at which they processes information) is a factor that determines how “bright” and academically capable they are, and this too can be significantly promoted through regular and rich language engagement. When a child hears words, their brain is not just recognizing sounds but is also learning to predict and anticipate. This rapid processing allows them to focus on understanding and interpreting new information rather than just hearing it. The good news for parents is that this kind of engagement doesn't require any special tools or qualifications. It can be achieved by talking and reading to your child regularly.

How reading can benefit your baby's emotional wellbeing

Aside from the cognitive benefits, reading and interacting with your baby has a host of emotional benefits. For a baby or young child, the world can seem a vast and often an intimidating place. The sound of your voice and the closeness of reading together offer comfort and security, significantly reducing stress for both of you. This bonding time is as nurturing for your baby's emotional well-being as it is for their intellectual growth.

It may sometimes feel challenging to find the time to read or talk to your baby, but remember, these moments are key cornerstones for their future. If you don’t know where to begin, then start simply by narrating the everyday moments you share with your baby. As your confidence grows and your baby responds, you will become braver. Before you know it, you will set aside time to cosy up and open a book -and as your little one becomes spellbound in a favourite story you can watch their world expand with every word you read.

How to make reading part of your baby's routine
Taking the time to connect, interact, and build a loving relationship with your baby through reading is worthwhile, but it can be difficult to keep little ones' attention. Here are five tips to make reading fun and keep babies engaged.

  • Read Face-To-Face: When reading to your baby, position yourself so that they can see your face. This allows them to observe your facial expressions, gestures, and movements, enhancing their engagement and understanding. Consider doing this during tummy time, bath time, or while they are in their highchair.
  • Be Animated: Use a lively and animated tone to capture your baby's attention and maintain their interest during reading sessions. Don't worry about feeling silly; a dynamic expression helps bring the story to life.
  • Follow Your Baby’s Lead: Allow your baby to guide the reading session. If they linger on a page or want to skip ahead, adapt to their pace and interest. Focusing on their curiosity rather than adhering strictly to reading from cover to cover will foster a more enjoyable learning experience.
  • Make Books Accessible: Place books within easy reach for your crawling baby, similar to toys, by storing them in accessible baskets or shelves. This encourages them to explore books throughout the day and not just at story times, making reading a fun and regular part of their playtime.
  • Try again tomorrow: If your baby appears unsettled or becomes out of sorts, put aside the book and return to it when your baby is in better spirits.


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